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Interview with Fergal Ó Ceallaigh from Ryarc

Posted: November 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

EZY: How did the company start and what was the inspiration behind the business?

Fergal: The company started in 2004, but the idea was forming for some years before that. I started out developing products for Microsoft and whilst I loved my time there, I’d always wanted to have a go at starting my own company. I couldn’t go out and compete with an established product like a spreadsheet program or database; I had no VC and nothing to invest in the product except my own time. So, the challenge was; what market has the potential to grow rapidly and isn’t being served by the larger software companies. I decided upon digital signage for three simple reasons. 1. The cost of human labor is always going up. 2. The cost of displays and connectivity is always going down. 3. Digital signage was going to move out of the ‘stadiums’ and ‘installation’ type of deployments and into regular offices. The market needed a usable product designed for knowledge workers; not engineers. It didn’t have one then. So, I set about writing a prototype, got it working and went on from there.

EZY: What digital signage products does the business sell?

Fergal: We only sell software. We’re not an ad business, or a retail strategy business or a content business. We focus on one thing; the software. Our software helps people operate and manage media networks. We do music too; not just the screens.

EZY: Who are some of your biggest clients?

Fergal: We got our start in the out-of-home sector with Eye Corp. We’re proud to say our oldest customer is also our first customer and a current customer. Eye use Ryarc technology in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Our technology delivers digital signage and in-store audio to Australia’s largest retail network and has done for several years now. Future Group, India’s largest mall chain also use Ryarc to power their stores across India. We also provide menu board technology, digital signage and audio to McDonalds China and a growing number of stores in other markets through resellers. Some other big names using our software today include Microsoft, Intel, Komatsu, Barnes & Noble, Virgin Active, FitnessFirst and Vodafone. Government and Universities have also been a good area for us. The National Guard in the USA, City of Melbourne and the Irish Defense Forces use CampaignManager as well as well-known universities like Penn State, Queens University Belfast to name a few.

EZY: For our viewers, are you able to demonstrate and showcase one of your products?

EZY: What are some of the things that makes your business stand out from it’s competitors?

Fergal: We’re nice people! [Laughs]. I think a few things set Ryarc apart. One is our absolute commitment to manageability and usability. There has been a tendency for the industry to over-emphasize on content and the latest what-ever-it-is add-on at the expense of the ‘grown-up/boring’ subjects like TCO and device/network management. I like to say that having great technology with bad content is like having a great bunch of musicians with a lousy singer. The whole thing looks bad. Everyone gets that. However, the opposite isn’t always stressed enough. It doesn’t matter how cool your content is or how many RFD/Bluetooth/The next big thing add-ons you have if your network is falling over all the time. We’ll leave the great content to the guys who build great content. We get on with making the most stable, easy-to-use and manageable platform for delivering that content.

Subjectively, I’d like to think another thing that sets us apart is that we just quietly get on with things without all the hyperbole. Historically, we’ve tended to invest in technology over public relations. If I have a choice between hiring another test engineer or flying the team out to Vegas for three days (and we’ve done trade shows in Vegas) I have a tendency to want to do the former. Maybe too much. Some people are critical of this approach and think that if you aren’t all over the trade show circuit you’re not ‘there’. We’re here alright. It’s just that we prefer to let the product and the technology do most of the talking. Maybe that’s the engineer in me. If you’re spending money on two-floor mega-booths for trade shows whilst your software isn’t as good as it can be you’re short-changing your customers.

EZY: What are your thoughts on the digital signage SaaS model?

Fergal: It will suit some and not others. The arguments for and against SaaS are well understood and transcend our industry. If it makes sense (and it does) for CRM, Email, Web Hosting, end-point-protection to be delivered as a service, then of course the same applies to our industry. CampaignManager can be deployed by our customers themselves or they can consume it from a 3rd party. We designed it to be attractive for IT Service providers. If they can currently offer all these other technologies as a service, then why not DS? Unlike a lot (all?) of the other technologies out there, our product is designed to be deployed by third parties so as to offer SaaS to their customers. You don’t go to or to get your website hosted, right? So why should our industry be different? We are not trying to build into a go-to point for Digital Signage. We want to offer our platform to service providers themselves. Right now, CampaignManager is simply the best product on the market for this purpose. A service provider can become a turn-key DS provider by simply installing our platform on their existing data-centers.

EZY: Are you able to share some insights on the future of digital signage, as in what’s the next “BIG THING”?

Fergal: You’re probably not going to like this answer, but you know what? It doesn’t really matter. Before you accuse us of being blasé let me say this. The premise for our business remains the same as it was on day 1. Namely, as long as the cost of human labor continues its increase and the cost of connectivity and hardware continues its decrease it will continue its slow attrition of the traditional sign. And as long as that happens, the world will need software to manage that transition to digital. That’s what we’ve always done and as long as we continue to provide a quality solution that offers that, I hope we’ll continue to have the pleasure of serving customers into the future.

About Fergal Ó Ceallaigh

Fergal Ó Ceallaigh is the CEO of Ryarc. Ryarc is a software company focusing on Digital Signage Software, distributed audio and playback technology. Ryarc’s core product is CampaignManager, an end-to-end Digital Signage management platform which is used to operate and manage digital signage networks, large and small all over the world. CampaignManager also allows you to expand your digital signage network to include an audio (in-store radio) platform as well as a corporate communications channel, all managed from a central location.


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